Don't assume you'll be able to pick out the right parts by sight!

Shopping By Example

Shopping by example is a technique we first employed on Que Tal, which we bought in Mexico. While we had a copy of Kathy Parson’s excellent Spanish for Cruisers, we still couldn’t always get exactly what we needed. Oh, the frustration as we’d bring our treasure back to the boat only to find that it was just a tiny bit different from what we needed.

And so we began what we called “shopping by example” – taking along either what needed to be replaced or the parts that something had to fit into. We could test and check right there in the store – and even with a language barrier, the clerk quickly “got” what the problem was and would find the correct item.

Here, with Barefoot Gal, the nearest hardware store is 12 miles away and the nearest marine stores about 50. While there’s no language problem and the clerks at both the local Ace Hardware and West Marine are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful, we don’t want to make multiple trips back and forth if we can help it.

And so we’re back to shopping by example. The other day, we had to head to West Marine for cables for our shore charger and also for pencil zincs for the heat exchanger on the diesel. The cables weren’t a big issue as far as fit, but the zincs were. So Dave just removed the one currently in the heat exchanger (there were no spares on the boat) and instead of trying to measure a partially worn zinc, we simply took it with us. Got perfect replacements!

In trying to hook up a new propane gauge, we almost followed our rule and took part of the parts with us. Dave assumed that one connection was standard and that he didn’t have to disconnect the regulator to take it with us. WRONG! We brought back parts that didn’t fit and he had to quickly remove the regulator and make another trip back to the hardware.

The next day when he needed some replacement screws for the stove repair, Dave took the whole stove top with him. He’d had to drill out the old screws and couldn’t accurately measure what he needed as replacements. Of course, they didn’t have exact duplicates of one machine screw with an odd head that had been used, but he was able to find screws that worked.

This time, in just one trip.

I'd like to know about...

Explore more

Want weekly tidbits of cruising information? Sign up for The Boat Galley's free weekly newsletter. You'll get the newest articles and podcasts as well as a few relevant older articles that you may have missed.

Do you find The Boat Galley useful? You can support the site when you buy from Amazon by using the links on this site or clicking below. No extra cost for you!

  • CaptRich Kervan
    Posted at 15 October 2014 Reply

    Exactly! 😎

  • S/V Dos Libras
    Posted at 15 October 2014 Reply

    Bruce does that. Sometimes I’ve thought it was silly or too much trouble to lug around a part… but it HAS saved us some trips back and forth.

  • Monika Ludewig Bradley
    Posted at 15 October 2014 Reply

    There is always a part or two in my handbag waiting for the next trip to the marine supply store! Some of them are heavy!

    • Vivienne
      Posted at 25 April 2016 Reply

      Yeah, see my comment about 12kg hull anode haha….can’t really pop that in a shopping bag easily!

  • ChrisW
    Posted at 15 October 2014 Reply

    This is especially useful when shopping at liquidators and such for parts that are no longer manufactured in the configuration one needs — such as our fuel polishing pump, engine water pump and about five other things.

  • Evelyn Ashcroft
    Posted at 15 October 2014 Reply

    What mew boat??? Did we miss something???

  • Peter Robertson
    Posted at 15 October 2014 Reply

    I find myself taking more fone pics of the part/piece I need to replace if I can…. really helps to show it installed.

  • Frances Liz Fernandez
    Posted at 15 October 2014 Reply

    My husband refused to measure quoting the infamous man phrase “those are standard”. Had to learn the hard way.

  • Vivienne
    Posted at 25 April 2016 Reply

    We had an interesting experience in Spain this week when boat was hauled out for anti fouling and new anodes. We had the brand and item numbers for each of the anodes we required (example McDuff 12kg 72B hull anode). So we thought ‘that was easy’, bought them, got them to the boat only to find that they are different. Now someone explain that to me! It just didn’t make sense. Well the 12kg anode was 275 euros, and it took another 40 euros to get someone to alter the diameter of the zinc fitting area by 1.5 cm in order to get it to fit….and that is not an easy job either. Very annoying! Same with bowthruster anodes, slightlly different shapes, but we took those back and order them direct from Sidepower. MAD!

Post A Comment